Mr Johnson has been weighing up competing arguments. In one camp is the Vote Leave team within No. 10 – led by senior adviser Dominic Cummings and director of communications Lee Cain – who think the prime minister, having failed to deliver Brexit on 31 October, must now trigger the “people versus parliament” election to try to galvanise the 52% who voted Leave in the 2016 referendum and who might still back Boris Johnson to get Brexit done.
In the other are those who believe the prime minister would do better to get this bill through and cement his place in history as the Conservative leader who delivered Brexit rather than risk it all at the polls. Some officials, as well as members of his cabinet, have been pressing for the government to bring back a timetable to pass the bill in November, and then hold an election in the Spring.
This is the “a bird in the hand is worth two in the bush” train of thought. It is better to try to get Brexit over the line than risk it all on a general election that could result in the Conservatives losing Brexit altogether if it doesn’t go their way.
MPs worry that the Tories will face a pincer movement from the Lib Dems in remain-facing seats in Scotland and pockets of England and Nigel Farage in Vote Leave areas banging the Brexit betrayal drum.
Brexiteers privately tell me that they would rather the legislation gets past. The European Research Group (ERG) could perhaps hold their noses and vote for an amended Withdrawal Agreement Bill, softened up by Labour MPs and former Conservatives, in return for Brexit becoming reality, and in the knowledge that the prime minister could change the terms of a future trade deal if he won a majority in a Spring election next year.
And One Nation Tories too are nervous. They have been pressing the prime minister to at least try to pass his Brexit Bill before an election. But whether his own backbenchers try to block him is another matter altogether.
For there are those around him that believe he must take back control of the process and put it back to voters via the ballot box. Some around him are convinced parliament will only toy with this Brexit deal like a mouse with a cat, keeping him and his Brexit plan in purgatory for as long as possible. He will get neither Brexit not his desired election and emerge a weaker prime minister amid the wrangling and delay.
With so much at stake, it is not clear if the SNP and the Liberal Democrats will support his election bid. One senior opposition source told me on Monday night that they thought it 50-50 as to whether the election vote would succeed.
There hasn’t been a December election in this country in nearly a century. Dark winter nights are not conducive to campaigning or turning out voters.
But this is Brexit and it breaks all the conventions and the rules. By Tuesday night we should know whether MPs are going to make history and give us a Christmas poll.